It was in 2018 that I first experienced participating in a TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo; it was in Chicago, Illinois, USA. I was very thankful to have been selected by TESOL International Association as one of the recipients of the Betty Azar Travel Grant for Practicing ESL/EFL Teachers, which helped me a lot in the expenses for the conference. My TESOL Convention experience was one of the best in my entire life as an English language teacher for 15 years. And from them on, I promised myself to save up every year in order to participate in the annual TESOL Conventions.
Wherever you are in the world, if you are an ELT professional and contemplating attending the TESOL 2020 Convention in Denver, Colorado, I would say you need not think twice—just go for it! Here’s why:
1. Professional Development Opportunity on a Global Scale
In my 15 years of English language teaching (ELT) experience, I have already been to several local, national, and international conferences in the Philippines and in several parts of Asia. However, my TESOL 2018 experience was one-of-a-kind. It was my first time participating in an ELT conference like no other. True to its tagline, a TESOL Convention is indeed “Where the World Comes Together,” because it is the world’s largest gathering of ELT professionals. The convention is participated in by more than 6,000 ELT teachers, researchers, administrators, and policy makers across various levels, cultures, and contexts. And with more than 1,000 sessions, including keynote speeches, oral presentations, workshops, Preconvention Institutes, forums, and meetings, there is certainly something for your interest.
The Convention provides you a gamut of opportunities for professional development on a global scale, as the world’s best ELT teachers, researchers, and professionals share their experiences and expertise with everyone without boundaries. You may engage with anybody and spark conversations about your professional practices and forge partnerships for future academic collaborations and professional network expansion. It’s an open market of overflowing ideas that will certainly quench your thirst for knowledge in the ELT field and ignite your interest in embracing new pedagogies and practices, welcoming new paradigms, and widening your perspectives.
2. Cultural Immersion and Experience
Participating in a TESOL Convention means going out of your comfort zone, leaving your daily routines temporarily, and going to a whole new world and surroundings to see and experience new things. Though it’s true that the Convention itself can provide limitless opportunities to learn in our field and to meet ELT professionals from other parts of the world, you simply cannot miss the chance of experiencing the culture of the host city or state.
When I attended TESOL 2018 in Chicago, it was my first time going to the USA, so it was a whole new level of experience for me. Hence, I made sure to plan ahead for my itinerary to include pre- and postconvention cultural explorations. In Chicago, I went to several cultural hot spots, universities, museums, restaurants, and markets on foot, by train, and by bus, curiously observing and exploring the new environment. This practice can provide another dimension in the overall convention experience, as discovering the host area can uncover wonderful and unforgettable learning opportunities, which you can share with your students and colleagues back home.
So are you ready to attend TESOL 2020 in Denver, Colorado? Let’s explore The Mile High City’s cultural hot spots, like the Denver Art Museum, the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, Colorado State Capitol, and the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park and Colorado Springs, among others. This cultural experience will certainly complement your amazing Convention experience!
3. Personal and Professional Reflection and Appreciation
Participating in the TESOL Convention is one of the best investments ELT professionals can do for themselves. The momentous experience of going to a truly global conference and meeting diverse audiences from the four corners of the world is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that no English teacher should miss. Meeting and engaging with like-minded individuals in the field can open your mind to possibilities, giving you the moment to appreciate your profession and to reflect upon your significant role in your country’s educational system and in the lives of your students.
The Convention gives you that sense of belongingness to the field and the pride to be in the profession that touches hearts and lives and transforms communities through English language education. The chance to meet ELT world figures, shake hands with them, and converse with them is an inspiring, surreal, and priceless experience. The stimulating sessions on various topics of interest by expert teachers around the world, the wide array of new TESOL books, and the interesting display of modern educational technologies at the Electronic Village give you insights for classroom innovation and a revisit to and reconfiguration of your own pedagogical practices. There is that moment of feeling renewed, connected, enlightened, and empowered. Even when you go back home, that feeling lingers and sparks new beginnings in your personal and professional journey. You will become a better person and teacher.
If there is any gathering for ELT professionals around the world, the TESOL Convention is the go-to event. The time and energy spent during the conference is tantamount to lifelong learning and personal and professional development that are both meaningful and rewarding.
Hope to see you soon in Denver for the #TESOL2020 Convention!
Romualdo Mabuan is an assistant professor of English at the Lyceum of the Philippines University in Manila, the Philippines. He is an Alumnus of the U.S. Department of State’s E-Teacher Program and is a MOOC camp facilitator at the Regional English Language Office of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines.